Pittsburgh, Pa., Mar 17, 2020 / 11:01 am America/Denver (CNA).
Allegheny County prosecutors are appealing a judge's decision to vacate the conviction of Fr. Hugh Lang, who is accused of having assaulted a boy in 2001.
On March 9 Allegheny County Commons Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani said he was granting Fr. Lang a new trial.
He said the priest had been denied a fair trial because the previous judge had allowed prosecutors to submit evidence that Fr. Lang had searched the internet for defense attorney shortly before the 2018 release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on allegations of clerical sex abuse of minors.
Prosecutors have said the internet search demonstrated “consciousness of guilt,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, while Mariani responded that the search could have been for other reasons, such as looking on behalf an accused colleague, or out of fear of being falsely accused.
He also said there is a right to search for and receive attorneys, which can't be used to demonstrate guilt.